The last 24 hours have been pretty eventful for the Redbirds (both the St. Louis and Memphis varieties), as John Mozeliak has begun paring the 40-man roster for the impending Rule 5 Draft. Thankfully, this is a high-class problem. Being forced to make tough moves now indicates talent depth in the system that needs draft protection – with guys like Bryan Anderson, Daryl Jones, John Jay, Allen Craig, and Mark Hamilton (among others) all being Rule 5 eligible.
First, the Toronto Blue Jays claimed 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir off waivers yesterday. The 26-year-old got a meager 16 PAs in just 8 games at the ML level in 2009, and didn’t figure to be a core asset going forward. He did have a nice little season at AAA, hitting .291/.357/.486 in just over 400 PAs (.370 wOBA). Unfortunately, he is a far below average defender by all accounts, and, while solid, his bat isn’t enough to overcome that deficiency in the big show.
Bigger news came today though, as it was announced that Matt Scherer and Joe Thurston were outrighted and Brad Thompson was given his release. For a good rundown of what exactly this means from an operational standpoint, there is a good summary here. Basically Scherer and Thurston were removed from the 40-man, whereas Thompson is now free to sign to with any team.
Scherer, if you recall, was a 16th round draft pick in 2004, and posted solid numbers in Memphis this year (73.2 IP, 3.54 ERA, 6.11 K/9, 2.78 K/BB). The power righty probably got a little lucky though as his FIP was 4.02, and at 26 isn’t getting any younger. I think the chances of anyone selecting him in the Rule 5 draft are small, as few teams are going to have a spot on their 25-man roster to take a flier on a relatively common commodity (average RH reliever).
Thurston and Thompson are guys we are more familiar with, but that doesn’t mean we will exactly miss their contributions. Thursty Joe provided a whopping 0.2 Wins Above Replacement in 124 games, being as close to the definition of “freely available talent” as possible. He is a multiple AAA all-star, and I think its safe to say that’s where he belongs. The additions of DeRosa and Lugo made his contributions virtually irrelevant, and I think the fanbase can rest a little easier knowing his baserunning gaffes will be at bay, at least for the time being.
Brad Thompson’s release shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason for the first time in his career, and paying anything more than the minimum for his 4.89 FIP just isn’t good business given his role as mop-up long reliever (which can be filled by just about any pitcher in the system). The only thing that we may miss is the look on our friends’ faces when they see him on the mound and ask why we have a 13-year-old in the game. Don’t get me wrong – he is a friendly face in the bullpen, and is well-liked – but keeping him around is not in the best interests of the club.
That pretty much sums up the first wave of transactions, but rest assured that many more are on the way. Bigger decisions involving Holliday and DeRosa are looming in the coming months, as is final word that Rick Ankiel is no longer a Cardinal. It is really an interesting time to be a Cardinal fan, as decisions in the coming months are going to illustrate the ultimate direction ownership and management want to take in the next few seasons.